During Apple’s fall event earlier this month the guys over at Cupertino announced a few new things, these included the new iPad Air and the new iPad Mini with Retina display, but only really touched on their Mac range. Despite this, in my view the update to the 13 and 15 inch MacBook Pro with Retina display was probably one of the most important announcements of the day.
My reasoning behind this may be somewhat similar to that of other reviewers, the original MacBook Pro with Retina Display didn’t really take off the way Apple may have wanted it too, due to some issues with speed and the Hefty price tag, a lot of buyers found themselves sticking with the current model or simply opting for the MacBook Pro without the Retina display or the MacBook Air.
However with their late 2013 model, Apple have fixed a few of these issues and have still managed to make the laptop thinner and with a smaller price tag.
The 13 inch model of the new MacBook Pro with Retina display ican be configured with a number of options, the base model ships with a 2.4GHz dual-core Intel i5-4258U Haswell Processor with 3MB of shared L3 cache, which can be upgraded up to a 2.6GHz Core i5-4388U Haswell processor.
Alongside this, if you want the 15 inch model, you can grab a processor as high as the 2.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 with 4Mb of shared L3 cache. All of the options also include an Intel Iris 510 GPU with DDR3L SDRAM, but this can be upgraded to a NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory in the top 15-inch model.
And to finish it off, all models can also be configured with up to 16GB of RAM.
In our test model, we went for the mid-range 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display which includes a 2.4GHz dual core Intel Core i5 Haswell processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage and Intel Iris Graphics and retails at £1,299.
But its not all specs as Apple have also done some work on the exterior of the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, tweaking it to be both thinner and lighter than the previous model, which weighed in at 3.47 pounds and measured 0.75 inches thick, the new 2013 model weighs 3.46 pounds and is slightly thinner at 0.71 inches thick.
However the ports on the sides of the pro haven’t changed, there’s still a MagSafe 2 charging connector, two Thunderbolt ports, a USB 3.0 port, 3.5mm headphone jack and two microphones on the left, with another USB 3.0 port, HDMI out and a full-size SD card slot on the right.
On the inside you will also find the same backlit QWERTY keyboard and glass trackpad just under that Retina display.
Speaking of that display, it is simply spectacular. Featuring a native 2,560 x 1,600 pixel resolution with 227 pixel per inch, this Retina display is by far one of the best that is available on the laptop market today, text is crisper and clearer than on anything we have seen before, and images just seem to pop-out at you, as if you were looking at a 3D screen, with the 3Dness of course.
There’s also IPS technology in-built into the display, which means that viewing angles are great, and thanks to that low-glare finish on the screen, everything is easy to see even in sunlight.
Not much of the changes we have mentioned so far are actually that new, what really makes the late 2013 edition of this laptop special is the new Haswell processors.
Leading on from the MacBook Air, these new Haswell processor improve upon the Ivy Bridge ones that were used in the 2012 model last year, and provide series speed when compared, with new ways to enhance processing speeds, Haswell optimises this machine in ways that the MacBook Pro line has not seen before.
And to top it all off, the new Haswell processor also comes with the boost of having better battery optimisation, and Apple says that this laptop will last around 9 hours from a single charge, however in our tests, we found that sometimes it can last even longer than that, something that is quite impressive coming from a laptop with a power-hungry display.
Apple have also included Intel’s new Iris graphics card, which is definitely a step up from before, however it could prove a problem to some as it is an integrated GPU, to tackle this Apple do offer the option to add a discrete graphics card from NVIDIA but only in the top-end 15-inch model, which for some might be a bit unreachable given its £2199 price tag.
However for some this might not be a huge problem, and for myself I found the Iris to be quite adequate even when using higher resolutions. To give an example we played SimCity on Medium settings, with textures set to high, and that worked without a hitch, we also ran Minecraft with a full HD texture pack without lag, and all with an acceptable frame rate.
This is also helped with the new SSD which has been fitted inside the MacBook Pro, allowing for faster loading times and even a snappy boot-up speed, and the only real problem we can see is the lack of storage space, which will mean anyone looking topick up any of these models might have to think about picking up an external hard drive.
Overall we were very impressed by the late 2013 MacBook Pro, despite what may seem as a few minor improvements, the inclusion of the Haswell processor, Mac OS X Mavericks and even the thinner and lighter design make it a worthy successor, and to make it even worthier, Apple have slashed the price so its now even cheaper, making it the perfect option for anyone looking into buying a new machine.
However that’s not to say it’s without its problems, things such as a none removable battery and parts that cannot be upgraded may turn a few potential buyers off, but this is something that I think we may have to get used to from Apple, despite its annoyance.